Sunday, November 27, 2011

Is Christianty Dying Out? Part 2: Will We Lose the Next Generation?


The other day on a message board an atheist confidently asserted to me that Christianity will be gone in one generation. He asserted that the next generation is going to just leave chruch in mass and that will be the end of it. He also asserted that studies by Ken Ham proves this scientifically. He talked like Ham is an atheists but he's actually a Christian minister and his goal is stop the mass defection.The implicit correlary to the guy's argument is that if they are leaving chruch they are becoming atheists.

Already Gone: Why your Kids will quite chruch
and what you can do about it

If you look around in your church today, two-thirds of the young people who are sitting among us have already left in their hearts; soon they will be gone for good.

This is the alarming conclusion from a study Answers in Genesis commissioned from America's Research Group, led by respected researcher Britt Beemer. The results may unnerve you - they may shake long-held assumptions to the core-but these results need to be taken seriously by the church. Already Gone reveals:

Why America's churches have lost an entire generation of believers

The views of 1,000 twenty-somethings, solidly raised in the church but no longer attending-and their reasons why

Ham's studies are real and the results are troubling.

NNYM post

"Are we losing Teens

before graduation?"

Are we losing teens while they are still right in front of us?

According to a study by Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis, we’re losing the next generation of believers before they even graduate from high school (details here).

He found that:

  • 95 percent of 20- to 29-year-old evangelicals attended church regularly during their elementary and middle school years. Only 55 percent went to church during high school. And by college, only 11 percent were still attending church.
  • Nearly 40 percent of the surveyed twentysomethings first had doubts about the Bible in middle school. Another 43.7 percent said they first doubted that all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are true during their high school years. Only around 10 percent said they first became doubtful about the Bible accounts during college.

What do you think? Are we losing teens, even while they are still attending church?

The issue in the min of the atheist is that atheism is going to grow and replace Christianity as the major world view. We do need to be finding reasons why this is happening and work on keeping young people interested in the faith. For me that does not translate into going to church per se. I'm not trying to persuade anyone to stop chruch. My concern is just for now that this is not the end of belief in God or even of Christianity by any means. This atheist is making the same mistake that pollsters make in assuming that non chruch affiliation means atheist. It does not. The young people still have a great deal of belief.

Postby Metacrock on Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:59 am
from the Pew article about their study linked in the article Fleet quoted:

Pew Forum Religion Among the Millennials
Yet in other ways, Millennials remain fairly traditional in their religious beliefs and practices. Pew Research Center surveys show, for instance, that young adults' beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles closely resemble the beliefs of older people today. Though young adults pray less often than their elders do today, the number of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades. And though belief in God is lower among young adults than among older adults, Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago. This suggests that some of the religious differences between younger and older Americans today are not entirely generational but result in part from people's tendency to place greater emphasis on religion as they age.
A Note on Sources
and Methods

This report is based on data from a variety of sources, including Pew Research Center surveys, which are used primarily to compare young adults with older adults today. General Social Surveys and Gallup surveys are used primarily for cohort analysis, which compare young adults today with previous generations when they were in their 20s and early 30s. While the surveys explore similar topics, exact question wording and results vary from survey to survey.

Present-day comparisons are made between adults ages 18-29 and those 30 and older. By contrast, the cohort analysis define generations based on respondents’ year of birth. There is significant - but not complete - overlap between the two approaches. That is, in the present-day analysis, depending on the year of the survey being analyzed, some in the 18-29 age group are actually young members of Generation X (defined here as those born from 1965 to 1980) and not true members of the Millennial Generation (defined here as those born after 1980).

In their social and political views, young adults are clearly more accepting than older Americans of homosexuality, more inclined to see evolution as the best explanation of human life and less prone to see Hollywood as threatening their moral values. At the same time, Millennials are no less convinced than their elders that there are absolute standards of right and wrong. And they are slightly more supportive than their elders of government efforts to protect morality, as well as somewhat more comfortable with involvement in politics by churches and other houses of worship.

It's a big mistake to think that young people represent the same views they will hold in middle age. It's common that their rates of disaffection for traditional affiliation will be higher in youth than in middle age.

Notice on the chart at the bottom of the page on the Pew article it shows the percentages for young people. the total for 18 to 29 is 68%. That's the general Christian category. Meaning all Christian groups taken together. Note: the chart is showing not the percentage of identification but the percentage of young who accept Bible as literal word of God!

Total for over 30 81%


for Evangelical 22%

Mainline 12%

30+ 27

19 respectively.

The older group always has a higher level of identification to the group. Look at the chart it's true across the board.

What we see above shows that Generation X is increasing (somewhat) it's identification, we find that the older generations are always more identified with an institution or tradition than young people. young people in America still possess the core values necessary for Christianity.

Notice that the charts in the article from the blog were not about the percentage identification but the percentage of young people believing the Bible is literal and inerrant. When the Pew article shows us their worth with young people we find 18-30 is still above 60%. It goes up as the ages go up. What this tells us is, it's not slipping that far with the youth and it's not hopes that they will come back as they get older.

The actual figure (pew) of percentage of disaffected is 22% and that does represent a doubling of the 70s. The 70s were the "Jesus freak ear" the great revival the Charismatic movement began. We should not expect that to be the norm of participation of youth a religious tradition. So we really shouldn't care the current era to the 70s. There is cause for concern and the disaffection I would think is lately due to hypocrisy. There is always going to be hypocrisy in the chruch, the Regan era galvanized the fundamentalists for the right wing making it worse.

The pew study shows an age distribution for religious traditions. There is a table. It shows that among 18-20 year olds 31% are in the unaffiliated category. While in 30-49 year old group 40% are in the unaffiliated. In other words the unaffiliated went down 10% between those two age groups. That means fewer young people are unaffiliated. why is that not the end of unaffiliated?

None of this indicates dying out of Christianity.

Here's an exchange on my board with a guy called "Ophir's Gopher"

It's definitely morphing into something unrecognizable and far more liberal.

I doubt that. O am I know it will eventually. Its' done it before. A Christian Palestine in 332 would not recognize a Christian from England in 1242, who would not recognize a Christian in Teas in 1852 who would not understand or recognize me and I believe.

There was a time when the average popular conception of Christianity was that you had to die for your faith to go to heaven. change is not death. It doesn't' matter how it changes the reality of God is there.

That was my point all along. Perhaps these religions aren't dying. Maybe only the dogmatic/fundamentalist core is collapsing. either way, it's incredibly interesting to watch and certainly nothing to be threatened by or depressed about. This is a good thing, and I'm priveledged to see it happening.


Yea, I'll go along with that.

That's what I think it shows. It's the rigid fundies who are declining. While the stats in Seminary they told us about showed the Methods were in big decline and the charismatics growing that's affilciation with membership, but the figures at the same time indicate that the ideas about religion are changing. They are not changing in the sense that young people are becoming atheist. Yes they are disillusions with fundamentalism and with churches. That doesn ot equate to giving up belief in God.

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